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The Week in Social 12/7 - 12/11

Everywhere you look, Iowans are uniting like never before. While times may be tough right now, we’re seeing it won’t stop the great people in the state from supporting one another. Many have taken to social media to help those in their communities, share helpful resources or to simply highlight something positive to bring joy to others. The Week in Social will round up the best of #IowansUnite and share these uplifting stories.

Rev. Minna Bothwell was searching for a way to support Iowans with the help of her congregation at Capitol Hill Lutheran Church. Members of the church suggested RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit that buys medical debt purchased from debt collectors.

When hospital patients cannot pay their medical bills, the debt is purchased from the hospital by debt collectors. RIP Medical Debt’s mission was particularly impactful to the Capitol Hill congregation, many of whom are refugees and immigrants who experienced similar hardships with debt when coming to the U.S.

"2020 has been a rough year for everyone," Bothwell said. "Our goal as a congregation is to give people a good start on 2021. Hopefully, when people receive this news, they start the year off better with a significant weight off their shoulders."

Opening a new toy around the holidays is a sure way to put a smile on a child’s face. Toys for Tots collects new, unwrapped toys and distributes them to less fortunate children. Thanks to members of the Ankeny community, 1,300 toys were donated via the Ankeny Fire Department drive-thru donation. Similar to Santa’s sleigh, two ambulances were loaded up to transport and distribute the toys in the Ankeny community.

The 2020 University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase is designed to highlight the role of federal funding for university-based research. The virtual event targets members of Congress, their staffs and national leaders in economic development and innovation policy. One of the 22 companies selected is ETALYC, an Ames-based startup whose technology aims to improve traffic flow and safety.

ETALYC was co-founded in 2016 by Dr. Anuj Sharma, an Iowa State University associate professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering. This year marks the third consecutive year that Iowa State and an affiliated startup have been selected to participate in the showcase since it was created in 2017.

Since 2014, employees of POET Biorefining in Hanlontown have strung LED lights onto a large tree next to Highway 9 just outside of the city. Each year, more and more lights are added to make the tree an even brighter attraction. This year, the tree has more than 80,000 lights and can be seen two miles away from Interstate 35.

Clark Griswold of Trees

Published December 15, 2020

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